24 June 2017

Bringing Back the Old School Aesthetic

What we now call "old school" lolita used to be the only style we wore. Chunky lace, puffed sleeves, simple cotton dresses, long bloomers.

In 2016 old school seemed to be making a comeback, even if only a mild attempt. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright's classical series offers brand new pieces of some of the company's old school designs.

Personally, I am enjoying seeing this small revival of old school. I don't wear the style often, and I only have one blouse and one JSK that would be considered true to the style. My own style and wardrobe has shifted away from cotton lace and knee-highs since I first started, and original pieces probably wouldn't match too many things in my closet.

It Started With an Idea...

Someone in my local community decided to host a picnic in a picturesque field. This adventure was to be a collaborative art project between a few friends, taking artistic photos in old school lolita. 

The picnic itself was intended to be Victorian-inspired and eco-friendly, so we brought our own china and silverware. No tupperware or paper plates to be found!

A few problems did emerge... Despite having a potluck thread on the Facebook event page, we were not particularly efficient with the dishes. We had six teapots, three creamers, a dozen tea cups, but no plates. Using the extra saucers as plates may have looked silly, but it worked.

Time For Baking!

Last week, I posted a list of six of my favorite ways to decorate a cake with minimal effort or talent. I love decorating cakes, but for this picnic I decided to bake one that needed no additional decoration. It speaks for itself. I made a hot milk cake - a recipe from the Great Depression that uses ingredients in a way that makes the most out of readily available ingredients while still maintaining a creamy, sweet taste.

I regret taking my cake in a glass cake display, my arms were definitely sore after hiking with about thirty pounds. The glass was unnecessarily heavy, and I'm sure it didn't help that I also brought a full Royal Albert tea set, a milk glass creamer and bowl, my bulky camera, a wool blanket, and a thick ceramic baking dish (because forgetful me had to rush and bake the cake right before I left, I had to let it cool in its dish up until I cut it).

Most of the food was homemade, which was impressive. We had lemon scones, hardboiled tea eggs, poppyseed muffins with fig jam, four kinds of tea sandwiches, fresh fruit, petit cheox, and about a dozen different kinds of tea.

Kamikaze Girls Redux

Because our hostess wanted to turn this meet into an old school lolita photoshoot, we took a lot of pictures after lunch. Me being me, I also took video footage for a vlog. Check it out here!

As well as individual outfit shots and candid photos during the picnic, we all stood out in the field for a group shot. We were posed to look like a moody jrock band about to drop a hot new album. As well as an obligatory dabbing shot because we're dorky like that.

While photoshoots never really show you the struggle behind the photo (the wind strong and cold, the sun dry and hot, and the grass painful and messy), they can portrait an ideal image. I think the few photos I did get were successful at creating the kamikaze girl aesthetic of whimsy and melancholy. 

Photo credit to Ouji Photography

Photo credit to Ouji Photography

Some of My Favorite Things

I love bad jokes and find them everywhere. The dress I wore to this picnic is the only remaining old school main piece I own, and it's called My Favorite Things. It just so happens that this afternoon did combine some of my favorite things - good food, good company, and frilly clothes.

Normally, I would give you a detailed rundown of my outfit. Fortunately, everything I wore other than my petticoat and shoes was from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright. I'm not a brandwhore, I swear!

My coordinate was perfect for the aesthetic theme of the picnic, but it was terrible for the location. We had to hike a decent distance along a rough trail, up a hill, and through the field full of tall grass with burrs and foxtails. Let's just say that it'll be difficult to completely clean my socks and my calves hated my footwear decision. 

Bring Back the Old School Aesthetic

The aesthetic and feeling of lolita has changed significantly over the years. I love the romanticism of the old lifestyle lolita and want to bring some of that back into my daily life.

Even if you don't like old school style of clothing, I think everyone can find something idealistic and appealing in the way our subculture was back then. The camaraderie, the precious rarity of the clothing, and the almost child-like aspiration to live in a dream world of simple sweetness and elegance.

I want to see a revival of the old school aesthetic. What about you?

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17 June 2017

Cookie Bear Review

Back when buying lolita on Taobao was limited to a handful of trusted shops, buying something from a store without a lot of sales or reviews was risky. Nowadays, it is far less dangerous to order something from a shop that only stocks a couple pieces. It isn't Russian Roulette anymore!

I absolutely adore sailor collared things, especially in lolita. I saw this preorder pop up in Lolita Updates, and I asked my shopping service to preorder it for me. I love the one I use, and they're really good for preorders. Just add the items you want, and they'll adjust the price you pay them once they confirm you know it's a preorder and will pay the full amount up front.

I love the dress I got from Cookie Bear, and I will definitely purchase something from them again if I see something I can't resist!

What I Got:

I preordered the onepiece and the matching felt beret in grey. Other color options were navy, red, and sax. I've been really loving light grey lately, so I couldn't pass up a cute sailor collar onepiece in the perfect shade of grey. I don't regret it.

The price for the dress was 418yuan (62usd), and the beret was 98yuan (15usd). Really decent price for the quality I got but average for Taobao brands.

It came with a detachable bow for the collar and a ribbon to tie around the waist. I really appreciated that the ribbon was made from the same material as the dress, instead of just a long piece of cheap grosgrain ribbon.

The Fit: 

I ordered a size L for the onepiece. While I can't actually read the measurements on Cookie Bear's product page, I can guess by looking at the numbers that it should have a 96cm bust and 82cm waist.

This feels pretty accurate. I wanted to get a size larger than I needed so it would be loose and comfy instead of fitting perfectly, and I'm glad I did. Since there is no shirring, the extra room is nice!

The beret fits nice and tight on my head (which is pretty average I suppose). I don't think it would fit very well on a wig, but it fits perfectly for wearing on top of your natural hair.

The Quality: 

For only sixty dollars, the quality is amazing. While the beret is a little misshapen, I understand wool is thick and is difficult to keep form.

The dress is fully lined, sleeves included, and is made from a nice fabric. It is thin enough to wear in the summer and thick enough to wear in the winter with an under-layer.

The stitching looks perfect, and the trim is quality as well. I couldn't find any lint or stray threads anywhere.

The sleeve cuffs can be opened with two buttons (although they are tough to get through the eyes) but weren't too difficult to put my hands through anyways.

Something that lolita brands often fail at no matter how expensive the dress is: zippers. So far, I have not had a single problem with the zipper Cookie Bear used. I am impressed.

The Details: 

As I've already mentioned, I am quite pleased with the quality and attention to detail Cookie Bear has done for the price of the dress.

I love the color balace between the grey, white, and gold. The different layers of trim are unique and really add to the simple elegance of the dress.

There are two pockets even though it has a side zipper. Come on Angelic Pretty, step up your game! My boyfriend couldn't tell it even had pockets just from looking at it on me, which is pretty impressive.

This dress definitely passed the twirl test and the slouch test - two very important points in my book!

Overall, I am in love with what I ordered. Please take a look at my video review for more detail shots and to see it worn.

I hope you consider buying from them if you like something you see - you won't regret it!

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10 June 2017

6 Easy Cake Decorating Ideas

Fun fact about me: when I was in high school I wanted to be a cake decorator. Needless to say, that career aspiration never really went anywhere. I do still love decorating cakes for parties though, and I want to share some really easy ideas that even someone with little to no decorating skills can do.

Maybe you want to treat yourself or go all out for the next tea party potluck!

1. Candied Flowers

This one I've done a few times before, and it looks amazing if you get the right flowers. You can use petals or whole flowers - but you might want to pick a sturdy one for that. Make sure to research which flowers are non-toxic and edible in case someone tried to eat it!

How it works is this: trim off any stems or leaves you don't want (or you can leave a little bit on to anchor the flower into the frosting), gently coat the petals with egg white, lightly dust the flower in sugar, let dry, and arrange on your cake.

Image credit: Sherri Silver

2. Fresh Fruit

Decorating with fruit is probably one of the healthiest options, and you can make a myriad of different color combinations and schemes. Peach slices and raspberries, kiwis and bananas, starfruit, the options are endless.

As a surprise present for my boyfriend, I made a hot milk cake and decorated it with vanilla frosting and fresh strawberries from the farmer's market. I love taking the ugliest pieces and covering them with white sugar and letting the mixture sit in the fridge for several hours, mixing every so often. This makes the strawberries so much sweeter and produces a simple strawberry syrup to pour over the cake. Yum!

Image credit: Elena

3. Candy & Chocolate

This idea is easy but not for the health-conscious. I've found that the hardest part is guessing exactly how much candy to buy - too little and you won't have enough, too much and you can't help but eat all the leftovers!

Instead of kitkats and M&Ms, you can also use other candies such as jellybeans, pocky, chocolate covered strawberries, sour belts, wafer sticks, etc. Like the photo below, you might consider trying a cute ribbon around the cake to help keep everything in place before you serve the cake.

Image credit: thecookieshop

4. Almond Slices (Whole Ones Too...)

Presumably you could decorate with other nuts, but I've personally never tried. Almonds are super versatile and go with many different cake flavors.

My personal favorite method is pressing almond slices into the frosted cake sides to look like over-lapping shingles, but there are many other really easy things to do with almonds. Sprinkle almond crumbles on the top, arrange almonds in flower shapes, make all kinds of patterns, even stick slices into fudge/cookie dough and make pinecones!

Image credit: Elizabeth LaBau

5. 3D Chocolate

You don't need a culinary degree or an expensive 3D printer to make really cool shapes out of chocolate. All you need is some chocolate to melt, a plastic bag with the tip cut off, wax paper, and a design you want to trace.

Here's how to do it: melt the chocolate you want to use, fill a plastic bag halfway with the melted chocolate and cut off a tiny bit of one corner, place the wax paper on top of the design you want to trace, twist the top of the bag and squeeze carefully to pipe the melted chocolate onto the wax paper, let dry, and place where you want it. If you are making something more complicated, you can "glue" together dry pieces together with more melted chocolate.

I've used this decorating technique before for an intricate gingerbread house I made a couple of years ago (if you didn't believe my love for decorating, you will once you see it!)

Image credit: Emma Galati

6. Dusted Powdered Sugar

This idea I have used several times - sometimes with powdered sugar, sometimes with sprinkles. It's really easy, and it works even on cake that isn't frosted.

All you need to do is put your cake on a surface that is easily cleaned like saran wrap, place whatever object or cut-out you want onto the surface, and lightly dust the powdered sugar over the area you want covered.

A tip: this works the best on darker frosting or cake colors like chocolate, red velvet, or green tea.

Image credit: Painted by Cakes

I hope you got some inspiration for your next baking adventure. If you don't bake - maybe you're just inspired to indulge in a store-bought slice!

Comment if you like lifestyle inspiration posts like this, I'd love to make more!

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09 June 2017

5 Tips to Beat the Heat While in Lolita

For the northern hemisphere, summer is fast approaching if it isn't here already. The layers of lolita are much more suited for cooler weather, so avoiding sweat stains and body odor perforating each layer of frills is a challenge.

I wanted to talk about "lolita hacks" for beating the heat instead of reiterating the same mantra of chiffon blouses, avoiding wigs, and wearing ankle socks. These five tips are more outside the box for keeping cool in lolita.

1. Keep your hair off your neck. Sometimes it simply isn't enough to avoid wigs and bulky curls. Even natural hair can trap in body heat if it's long enough to reach your shoulders. From many summers of trial and error, keeping your hair off your neck is really what's important. Braids, buns, ponytails - just make sure air can dry the sweat on the back of your neck before it gets disgusting.

2. Bring a fan. For some reason, I don't see a lot of lolitas in my local community bringing fans to outdoors meets during the summer. I always bring one if the weather is going to be hot or the event is going to be somewhere potentially stuffy. Fans really do help, and they're under-appreciated tools. Use wide, slow strokes to avoid tiring yourself out - it will cool you off the same as short, fast flutters.

3. Mesh tights. Tights can work during the heat, but stay away from thick printed ones. Mesh tights, like fishnets or crocheted lace patterns, are actually pretty breathable and the holes will catch a light breeze to cool off your legs. If I'm going to be walking around a lot outdoors, I prefer mesh tights to ankle socks because it helps prevent the dreaded "chub rub" rash.

4. Bring a cooling face mist. I personally love the tea tree spray from Lush, but any face mist will work. This worked wonders for me when I was in Berlin during the hottest week of the year. Lightly spritz yourself once in a while to refresh yourself in hot weather.

5. Ditch the bloomers and use cotton lining. Bloomers will trap in heat to one of the hottest parts of your body (gross I know, but true!) and just add another layer. I suggest layering your petticoats so you have a cotton-lined one as the bottom layer. Cotton is more breathable and won't stick to your thighs like polyester lining will. It will also soak up some sweat instead of making you feel sticky and gross all day. You can always wash it after! If you don't have any that are lined in cotton, sew/buy a really cheap cotton slip to wear under your petticoats.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Comment your own lolita "heat hacks" below, I'd love to hear more! You can never have too many tips for avoiding sweat...

Also, please check out the other participants in this week's theme.

Other blogs who participated:
Poppy Noir

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03 June 2017

Preparing For Your First Meetup

This post probably won't be of much use for my more experienced readers, but for someone who has never been to a lolita meetup before it could be really helpful.

Meeting new people is hard, especially if you have any kind of social anxiety or are generally super shy. Most lolitas I've met are friendly and welcoming to new people. There's nothing to be afraid of!

Here are some tips for preparing for your first meetup - I hope they help you feel more confident in making friends with your local community or with lolitas you may meet while traveling.

  • If there is an online event post, look at who is attending and try to remember faces and names. Nobody is perfect, and you'll probably want to formally introduce yourself anyways. If you introduce yourself and reply to their name with "Oh, nice to meet you X. I think I recognize you from Facebook/Instagram/Etc." they'll feel flattered. 
  • Prepare your coordinate the night before. If you're frustrated with how something looks or can't find that missing sock, you'll be too stressed to enjoy yourself. While you don't have to look absolutely perfect, being prepared will help fight the fear of looking bad.
  • Arrive fifteen minutes early. A saying I love goes: If you're on time, you're already late. Double check when the meet starts and give yourself wiggle room for traffic and finding the location. Being late to a formal event - such as a tea party or a tour - will cause trouble for the host and could delay the activity. 
  • Bring cash, especially small bills. Dining out together goes smoothly if you have cash on hand instead of trying to split the check with a dozen different cards. It is also incredibly handy to have small bills, because inevitably someone will ask if anyone has change for a $20.
  • Listen more than you speak. The best way to make friends is to remember what they've told you and ask them about it later. Pay attention to who likes what, what they do for a living, and what they don't like. People love talking about themselves, so ask them open-ended questions. You have this fashion in common, so you already have an icebreaker.
  • Thank the host for the event. You don't have to make a lengthy thank-you on the Facebook event page, but just thanking the host in person will make them feel like the hassle of hosting the meet was worth it. Let them know you had a good time meeting everyone, and you look forward to seeing them again.
  • Remember that lolitas are people too. They might not want to automatically be your best friend, be in all your selfies, or cover your drink because you forgot your wallet at home. Be polite and respectful, and don't be discouraged if it takes a while for them to include you in their social circle.

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